Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Game #13: Minnesota Wild at Vancouver Canucks, Saturday November 8th at 9:00pm (CST), General Motors Place

Minnesota Wild (8-3-1) 17pts 1st in Northwest Division2.67 Goals per Game (23rd in)2.17 Goals Against per Game (3rd in)20.4% Power Play (9th in)93.8% Penalty Kill (1st in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 2G 13A = 15pts2. #20 Antti Miettinen ~ 6G 6A = 12pts3. #15 Andrew Brunette ~ 5G 4A = 9pts4. #67 Benoit Pouliot ~ 4G 2A = 6pts5. #25 Eric Belanger ~ 3G 3A = 6ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #47 Marc-Andre Bergeron ~ 12PIM2. #8 Brent Burns ~ 12PIM3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 10PIMGoaltenders:1. #32 Niklas Backstrom ~ (8-2-1) 2.52GAA .914SV%2. #29 Josh Harding ~ (0-1-0) 2.21GAA .927SV%atVancouver Canucks (8-6-0) 16pts 3rd in Northwest Division3.21 Goals per Game (7th in)2.71 Goals Against per Game (14th in)17.6% Power Play (16th in)79.2% Penalty Kill (21st in)Top 5 Scorers:1. #33 Henrik Sedin ~ 3G 9A = 12pts2. #22 Daniel Sedin ~ 4G 7A = 11pts3. #17 Ryan Kesler ~ 4G 7A = 11pts4. #21 Mason Raymond ~ 5G 5A = 10pts5. #14 Alex Burrows ~ 4G 4A = 8ptsTop 3 Penalty Minutes:1. #55 Shane O'Brien ~ 34PIM2. #13 Mike Brown ~ 30PIM3. #13 Alex Burrows ~ 26PIMGoaltenders:1. #1 Roberto Luongo ~ (8-5-0) 2.52GAA .914SV%2. #41 Curtis Sanford ~ (0-1-0) 3.75GAA .878SV%While it took twelve games to finally meet a Northwest Division opponent, in a way it feels like the hockey season starts tonight. Yes, the Wild have taken on two tougher opponents in the Buffalo Sabres and the San Jose Sharks (both losses), a game against the Vancouver Canucks, especially the first one in a season, is almost a game within a game. There is the question of "is it really a rivalry" (there are Vancouver fans who deny one exists). To a degree it doesn't matter the eventual outcome of the six games against the Canucks, for it's the emotion of the players and fans that matters the most.While there's the basic rivalry blood pumping, there is some bad blood between the teams as well. Some of that bad blood can be traced back to former Wild enforcer Matt Johnson's questionable hit on Vancouver's Mattias Ohlund in the Wild's formative years. Add that with the antics of former Canuck Matt Cooke and you get a potent mix for potential troubles. However, the more recent experiences clearly demonstrate the tension between the two teams. For Wild fans, what they remember most is Ohlund's two-handed chop on Mikko Koivu's leg that had Koivu out of the lineup for about two months with a broken leg. Koivu of course let his return be known loud and clear by scoring on those same Canucks on his return to play. Then you must had the troubles between Alex Burrows and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (which preceed their years) to really make you wonder what kind of 6-game series we're in for this year. I have a feeling it's going to be far from pretty. With the Wild sitting in the top spot right now, and that the Wild won the Northwest Division last season, one only has to expect that the Canucks are going to come looking for blood. You always go after the team on top, but when it's the one that there's some history with, who knows what to expect.Tonight should be a workshop in defensive hockey. Even though the Canucks aren't quite as defensively minded as they were last season, they will most likely up the ante on their defensive play. They can't afford not to. The Wild on the other hand will need to school them because they're going to have to keep the Canucks from scoring (which they can do) if they even want a chance on winning tonight. Good thing for the Wild that the Canucks let in more goals per game than the Wild score per game. Sure the margin isn't by much, but sometimes all you need is a narrow margin. Expect a game of narrow margins tonight. While a game of special teams isn't what you really want to see, the Wild are definitely going to need to take advantage of every power play they are awarded. With a power play in the Top 10, the Wild should be able to crack the Canucks struggling penalty kill. If the Wild can't score a power play goal or two tonight, the Canucks will most likely come out as the winners tonight.The rivalry is renewed tonight. Hopefully it can be done with not too much blood spilled on the ice. It's too early in the season for serious injuries on either side, and as we all know, the Wild can't afford any more injuries. Regardless of who wins, tonight should simply be an indicator of things to come later in the season.P.S. The State of Hockey News would like to congratulate the Houston Hurricanes High School football team of Houston, MN on their state 9-man quarter-final 14 to 6 win over Verndale High School last night. They will continue on to the semi-finals which will be played Friday, November 14th at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. This is the first time this team will have ever played at the Metrodome (including while they were still playing 11-man football). They will face Ada-Borup High School next Friday at 8am. Source

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